Yeh i have VM set to the minimal settings, it runs windows slow as **** jajaja
Just found a fairly cheap C2D X7900 (2.8Ghz) on ebay as well.. may opt to upgrade the CPU when I open it to change the hard drive... that should make a huge difference and keep my iMac alive for a couple of years.. or it could all go horribly wrong and ill be force to buy a new one now... lets hope not!
Moving to a 1TB 7200rpm drive will speed up your disk accesses. While you are about it, you might consider choosing an even larger drive for more speed.
Moving from your 320GB drive to a 3TB drive will mean that the access arm will never have to move more than about 10% of way across the disk, and will usually be about 3% of full stroke. This will give you performance similar to a "full" 15K rpm drive.
Another possibility is to use a hybrid drive. I have a Seagate hybrid drive in my MBP and it has transformed it. This drive is a 750GB drive with a few gigs of flash memory. It's a 2.5" drive, so that may not work for you.
But I always believe in maxing out RAM - it's so cheap and can never hurt. I have 16GBs on my iMac and I still get page outs, but in small quantity.
PS The difference in speed between SATA 2 and 3 in the real world is not huge except for very large data transfers. For most I/O, the bulk of the time is taken up in seek (arm movement), and latency (rotation time).
Message was edited by: John Kitchen - added PS
I agree about ram, it originally only accepted 4GB DDR, and i maxed it the first month i got it. Now apparently it can take 6GB so will upgrade again. What i don´t understand is why does it only allow 6Gb? if it can read 4gb modules, shouldn´t it do so from both slots and allow 8Gb?
Thanks for the info on the hard drives, I had considered the Hybrids, but they were all 2.5".. and this iMac takes a 3.5". Pitty. I was looking at the Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 with 64mb cache, theres a 2TB version for not much more, would that make a difference? both state the same averages on the description with regards to latency/read/write, etc.
The upgrade is working out fairly cheap,
C2E X7900 2.8Ghz CPU = 80€
4Gb DDR2 (single module) = 45€
1TB 64mb cache HDD = 85€
So for around 210€ i can hopefully keep this iMac for another year or two, and not have to spend a small fortune on a new one. Although a 27" screen would have been nice. I've not opened an iMac before, but i´m not expecting it to be much more complicated than a normal laptop to get to the bits.
Hi John Kitchen,
What a great post. Thank you very much. I think you confirmed my suspicion. I had a 2008 MB (Core 2 Duo) with 4GB Ram and SL. It was not bad at all, but I was running into mostly shortage or physical RAM problems. I am a reasonably high consumer of RAM (hey, all you need is Mail, Firefox and Flash plugin these days!). The MB had served me very well, but as it was getting old, I managed to get a brand new late 2011 13" MBP - with 4GB Ram. I got it from work, and had asked for 8GB, but it came with 4GB. Anyway, after a couple of weeks, I started to wonder if my old Mac was actually performing better than the new MBP. If occassionaly went back to the MB, I would find that it ran pretty sweet.
Anyway, having lived with Activtiy Monitor up for most of the time, I figured it was a RAM issue - however, a bit more painful than the RAM issue I was having on SL. I'm going to upgrade to 16GB, but just before I did that, I googled: "4GB RAM not enough for Lion" and found your marvelous post confirming my suspicions.
Just a note to say thanks, there was some useful suggestions in there too and your responses to other posts have been equally informative. I think your advice is spot on, every time.
Thank you, Chris, glad to know it has been helpful. I keep Activity Monitor up all the time too. It's obvious that RAM usage is something that "spikes". Same thing happens in Starbucks. One moment the place is empty, the next the line is out the door. No obvious reason, just the random nature of things. For this reason, there is no point in configuring RAM for average conditions, the peaks will kill you!
I have a macbook from mid 2009 which according to apple's spec can only support 4GB ram max (I bought it with 4GB as standard 2GB would never be enough). As such, I have not upgraded past snow leopard. I have noticed that my avaliable ram has plumeted after some recent operating system updates. (for example right now I have 1.7GB active, 624MB wired, 1.62 inactive) and 720MB and climbing swap. As I understand it, inacive memory is somewhat like a cache, speeds up recently used files, but isn't that important. I wonder then why does the system use swap in preference to inactive memory?
Interestingly, purge does not seem to clear much of this 'inactive' memory, nor do any command line tools give me any idea who it belongs to.
I am currently running Firefox (10 tabs), iTunes and a text editor, and a pdf open in preview.
Of these Firefox is taking most of the memory. (Firefox 700MB, kernel task 200MB, and mds 110MB are the only things with more than 100MB of ram in activity monitor, next is Finder with 60MB).
Activity monitor is showing all processes and agrees with 'top'.
Right now, my mac is positivly crawling allong, yet the CPU is 80% idle. swithing windows, for example, gives me a beach ball for a few secs. I dont believe this to be a hardware fault as I have run disk, memory benches etc. and all come out fine. also seems to only happen when swap gets toward 1GB or higher.
Is this acceptable for a modern operating system?
Would upgrading to lion (or moutain lion) make things better or worse in your oppinion?
It is obvious that I need more RAM as I usually do quite a lot with the computer (incl developemnt)
Are apple lying about 'max supported ram 4GB'? or am I stuck until I can afford a new computer?
Your advice below was so helpful for me!!! This truly has "fixed" my memory hogging issues at least as far as I can tell!!! I'll post any updates if they present themself. I'm so glad to have found this post before taking the ultimate plunge back to Snow Leopard due to these memory issues I've been experiencing with only a handful of apps/windows open!!! Thanks again
I have suggestions for you if you are considering upgrading to Lion, no matter how much RAM you have, but especially if you have 4GBs or less. Lion uses more RAM, and this may hurt your performance after the move to Lion. You need to plan for this
- Check Activity Monitor for Page Outs after you have been using your Mac normally for some hours. If Page Outs are zero or very close to zero, then you'll probably be happy with Lion
- If Page Outs are not zero, identify your most commonly used apps which are significant consumers of RAM, and change them so that they run in 32 bit mode, not 64 bits, then reboot
- Again, check Activity Monitor for Page Outs after you have been using your Mac normally for some hours. If Page Outs are zero or very close to zero, then you'll probably be happy with Lion
- If you are still getting Page Outs, then try running fewer apps concurrently, but only if you can live with this compromise
- If you still haven't reduced Page Outs to almost zero, then either stay with Snow Leopard, or upgrade your RAM
FAQ How do I change an app to 32 bit mode?
- Go to your Applications folder, find the app, select it and press Command-i
- A window will open titled "applicationname Info" and about half way down you should see "Open in 32-bit mode" with a checkbox beside it. Check it.
- If it doesn't say that, then look in this window for "Kind". If it says "Application (PowerPC)", then you have another issue to resolve before upgrading to Lion, because this app will not work under Lion.
Sorry, this reply may be too late for you, Liam.
I just checked in the (free) MacTracker app, and it says the mid 2009 MacBook will go to 6GBs, so it seems you can remove one 2GB module and replace it with a 4GB module. But not both.
Anyone who has a memory-constrained Mac should check to see if the actual RAM limit is higher than the Apple spec.
I have two Macs, and both of them have more RAM than the Apple spec. This iMac has 32GBs against 16GBs as the standard limit. In some cases, it is possible to go to 2X the Apple number. But not all cases. You must check it out carefully.
Another good source of info is macsales.com
PS since upgrading to 32GBs, I never see any page-outs. Replacing the 16GBs with 32GBs cost less than $100
Message was edited by: John Kitchen to add the postscript